McGriff gets Hall call 40 years after being dealt at Winter Meetings

December 6th, 2022

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Congratulations to Fred McGriff, who was unanimously elected to the Hall of Fame by the Contemporary Era Baseball Committee. He was one of the most consistent sluggers of his era, producing 10 seasons with 30 homers from age 24 to 38.

Besides the power -- and the Tom Emanski videos, of course -- when I think of McGriff, the first three trades of his career also come to mind. They all were notable for different reasons.

The Blue Jays crushed scouting at all levels throughout the 1980s, enabling them to go from expansion franchise to perennial contender in short order. One example came at the 1982 Winter Meetings, when they stole McGriff as the third player in a deal that sent Dale Murray and Tom Dodd to the Yankees for Dave Collins and Mike Morgan. McGriff was a 1981 ninth-round pick out of a Florida high school who had repeated Rookie ball, so he wasn't a top prospect by any means, but Toronto liked his left-handed power potential.

McGriff didn't become a regular with the Jays until 1988, then swatted 105 homers over the next three seasons before he was involved in the biggest Winter Meetings blockbuster I can remember. The Blue Jays shipped a Hall of Famer (McGriff) and a five-time All-Star (Tony Fernandez) to the Padres for another future Cooperstown inductee (Robert Alomar) and another five-time All-Star (Joe Carter) in December 1990. Baseball was buzzing for weeks about the audacity of that deal, which helped Toronto win a pair of World Series.

When the Braves were looking to bolster their lineup in mid-1993, they acquired McGriff from San Diego in exchange for prospects Donnie Elliott, Vince Moore and Melvin Nieves. McGriff was more productive in the second half of that season than those players were in their entire careers, and he played a key role in Atlanta's 1995 World Series championship. That deal was one example of why executives from other clubs marveled at the Braves' scouting acumen, not just for knowing which amateurs to sign but also which farmhands to trade.